This is the end of the fall season for the Lawrence University womenâ€™s tennis team, but itâ€™s a beginning for the Vikings as well.
Lawrence heads into this weekendâ€™s Midwest Conference Championships at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison looking for a strong finish to the fall season and build some momentum for the spring campaign.
â€śWe donâ€™t have any seniors playing so itâ€™s good experience for everyone,â€ť Lawrence coach Kevin Girard said. â€śItâ€™s matches to improve and to look forward to the spring season.â€ť
The Vikings failed to qualify for the four-team MWC Tournament for the first time in three seasons, but Lawrence is still shooting for the best finish it can muster.
â€śWe just want to finish as high as we can, which is fifth,â€ť said Girard, pointing out the four teams in the MWC Tournament on Friday are guaranteed the top four spots.
â€śFifth is what weâ€™re going for, but we can get more points than (one of the tournament teams), thatâ€™s one of our goals as well.â€ť
Doubles competition is set for Saturday, and the championships finish with singles on Sunday.
â€śHonestly, if everyone plays as well as they can, they can do a ton of damage in their draws. One through six, we all have a shot,â€ť Girard said.
Sophomore Christina Schaupp, the defending conference champion at No. 4 singles, is playing No. 1 for the Vikings this season and enters the weekend with a 5-9 overall record. Next in the lineup is junior Gayatri Malhotra, who is 10-2 overall and 4-2 since moving up to No. 2 singles last month.
â€śGayatriâ€™s tough,â€ť Girard said. â€śSheâ€™s not a fun one to play against, thatâ€™s for sure. She doesnâ€™t blow anyone out, but sheâ€™s hard to beat. When she gets into a groove, she hits as hard as anyone in the conference. If she gets into that groove against you, youâ€™re in trouble.â€ť
The Vikings round out the singles lineup with sophomore Hannah Geoffrey (9-4), freshman Ali Heiring (8-5), junior Polly Dalton (8-4) and sophomore Melissa Heeren (3-5).
The Vikings team Geoffrey and Heiring at No. 1 doubles, Malhotra and Dalton at No. 2 and Schaupp and sophomore Tess Vogel at No. 3. Geoffrey and Heiring are 8-3 overall and 3-2 since moving to the No. 1 spot.
â€śIf Hannah and Ali are on, they can beat anybody,â€ť Girard said. â€śGayatri and Polly are really tough, and Tess and Christina are also playing well.â€ť
Malhotra and Dalton are 8-4 and 5-3 since moving up to No. 2. Thatâ€™s not bad, especially considering Malhotra had not played very little doubles in college until this season.
â€śGayatri is a natural singles player, but this year she has really embraced doubles,â€ť Girard said. â€śShe loves the baseline. She loves her groundstrokes, but she is really working on her footwork and her hands.â€ť
Given the changes in the doubles lineup, Malhotra and Dalton could prove to be a tough out for anyone in the conference.
â€śSeeding is going to be interesting. They are kind of the wild cards,â€ť Girard said. â€śYou donâ€™t want to draw them in the first round, thatâ€™s for sure.â€ť
For the first time in the brief three-year history of the Gene Davis Invitational, Lawrence won both the menâ€™s and womenâ€™s races last Saturday at Reid Golf Course. Junior Curran Carlile won the menâ€™s race for the second time in three seasons, and freshman Clare Bruning took the top spot in the womenâ€™s race for her first collegiate title. Lawrence also took the menâ€™s team title.
Nine is fine
The Lawrence womenâ€™s tennis team defeated Ripon College 9-0 last Friday, and that marks the second consecutive season Lawrence has shut out the rival Red Hawks. The Vikings now have a record nine consecutive wins over Ripon.
Editorâ€™s Note:Â Inside LU Athletics is a notes package written by Lawrence University Director of Athletic Media Relations Joe Vanden Acker. It will feature teams and individual players, recap weekly awards or highlights and take a look at whatâ€™s ahead for the Vikings.Tags: Inside LU Athletics